Natural Antidepressant Combinations I Recommend

Despite the fact that I was trained in the traditional ways of medicine, I prefer to utilize natural supplements and foods to treat conditions, only turning to prescription medications as a last resort for my patients. I have a particular aversion to prescribing antidepressant medications, and honestly believe that such meds only serve as a bandage for the root cause, which almost invariably is a combination of hormonal imbalance and malnutrition.

When a patient comes to me complaining of symptoms of depression, I always recommend the following three supplements as part of the patient’s daily regimen:

Vitamin D
Folate 800 mcg
B-Complex

Once my patients are on this daily regimen for a few weeks, I have them visit for a follow-up to see if their symptoms have improved. If the improvement is marginal, I add SAMe and 5-HTP to the regimen, both of which are great for treating pain issues. As the patient treatment progresses, I order hormonal assays, checking the thyroid, adrenal glands, DHEA, IGF-1, testosterone, progesterone, and estradiol. If anything is off balance (and in most cases, something is), I will treat the imbalance directly with organ support compounds and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

In addition to natural supplements, I also recommend that patients consume whole foods, and avoid processed foods at all costs. I encourage them to find balance in their daily lives, and often demonstrate breathing exercises or discuss meditation with them. I also remind them to stop and enjoy what they have in their lives, to be grateful for what they have instead of dwelling on what they lack.

Rather than turn to SSRI’s, please consider the natural approach first if you are dealing with depression!

If you are in the Los Angeles area, and you would like to schedule an exam, please call Urban Med at (213) 406-8055 to make an appointment.

The BEST Health Insurance Policy – REPOST

Health apple

With the recent upheaval in the world of health insurance coverage, I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about ways that we can safeguard against the need to access insurance benefits and keep our out-of-pocket costs to a minimum. If you have a predisposition towards conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, joint issues, depression or anxiety, a little self-nurturing can go a long way in keeping those issues at bay. Though there is no absolute guarantee that being proactive about your health will completely prevent disease from manifesting in your body, you can minimize the chances by following sensible guidelines.

1. Get Regular Exercise: If you have yet to take part in regular exercise, here are a bunch of reasons why you should. First of all, regular exercise supports and encourages healthy circulation, lowers blood pressure and reduces cholesterol levels. It also reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. When you strengthen your muscles with resistance training, you protect your bone density and improve your mobility. There are also mood-elevating benefits which exercise confers which can push away depression and anxiety. Lastly, exercise keeps your mind and memory sharp as you age. A good plan is to exercise 30 minutes a day, 4 to 5 days per week at a moderate intensity. Now, if you aren’t quite at that point, or you ae nowhere near that point, don’t get discouraged. The important thing is to start. You can work up to the 30 minutes a day, 4 to 5 times per week regimen gradually, as long as you remain committed to the program. Make sure to schedule exercise sessions into your day, and STICK TO THEM!

2. Reduce Stress: You may be thinking that reducing stress may be next to impossible in this hectic society, but it is absolutely essential for your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. When you go through life at top speed, anxiously rushing through in an effort to meet deadlines, you not only miss out on special moments, but you also overtax every major organ in the body, including adrenals, heart, pancreas, liver, colon, brain and skin. Similar to over-revving an engine, you cannot expect to keep going at a gallop constantly without burning out the engine. Have you ever noticed that you are more prone to catching colds when you burn the candle at both ends? Simple things, such as practicing breathing techniques when anxiety creeps in, or truly allowing yourself to BE IN THE MOMENT when you take a break, can be very helpful in reducing stress. Pay attention to the times when you feel overwhelmed, when you feel like you are unraveling or are at that point in which you are either going to explode or give up and hide under a rock. It’s during those times that stepping outside the bubble is crucial. And once you understand not only that you CAN step away, you may relish that escape when it feels like the walls are closing in on you.

3. Practice Sound Nutrition: Proper nutrition is critical to supporting optimal health. This means eating meals throughout the day instead of starving yourself, and turning to whole food sources as much as possible. By incorporating leafy green vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, lean meats and healthy fats, you will equip your body with the fuel it needs to function properly and to repair itself optimally. Without proper nutrition, inflammation and free radicals can wreak havoc on an already challenged body, culminating in disease and illness. It is important to stay away from fast foods at all costs.

4. Get Sufficient Sleep: Slumber enables our bodies to repair cells and tissues so that we can function during our waking hours. It supports a healthy metabolism and also reinforces learning and memory from the day’s activities. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body cannot adequately repair itself. If sleep deprivation occurs regularly, the metabolism becomes sluggish, inflammation accumulates, and the risk for diseases of all kinds becomes significant. Make sure to get a solid eight hours of sleep each night, and try to go to sleep at around the same time each night.

5. Laugh: I listed this as a separate topic from stress reduction because I honestly believe that laughter as a daily medicine can do wonders for one’s health. Over the past several years, I have resorted to listening to comedy when I am in my car instead of listening to music, literally adding comic relief to the commutes I make around the Los Angeles area. Laughter truly is the best medicine!

I’m sure some of you are completely on board with what I am advocating, and are implementing some or all of these healthy habits in your daily regimen. Then there are those of you who believe the advice is sound, but haven’t found the motivation to make the necessary life changes which can have a profound positive impact on your health. Lastly, there’s a group of you who stubbornly refuse to listen to advice, who will keep practicing unhealthy habits as a rebellion to everyone around you. I’ve got a message for the last group. Every single person I have EVER met who threw caution to the wind like that, and pretended not to care about the health impact of habits like poor nutrition, alcohol and drug use, lack of exercise, smoking, and reckless lifestyles, somehow got it in the end. Whether it was a cancer diagnosis, high blood pressure, obesity, or some other illness, every single one of them was forced to change their tune. Don’t be one of those individuals who is forced by illness to finally wake up!

You have the power to transform your life. Don’t forget that!

Fitness As An Insurance Policy

One of the biggest challenges I face as a physician and fitness professional is convincing patients and clients that healthy eating and regular exercise serve as the best insurance policies in optimizing health and minimizing the risk of illness and disease. It is especially frustrating because I know first-hand that this is true.

I began weight training at the age of 21 to heal from my teenage bout with anorexia. Luckily, I was already practicing relatively healthy eating habits once I abandoned my starvation mission. I was not surprised by the fact that I loved weight lifting, how it made me feel, how it made me look, and how it made others look at me. It also empowered me and lifted me from the darkest period of my life, becoming my saving grace and an insurance policy for my health and well-being. I became intrigued with the world of fitness and quickly noticed the “can do” attitude that was so pervasive. At one point I had considered competing in the fitness division and had even looked into hiring a coach, but then I got sidetracked by medical training, marriage and then divorce. Little did I know then that I would finally hit the bodybuilding stage in my 40’s and eventually attain IFBB Professional Status.

healthy lifeI may be a freak of nature and blessed with decent genetics, but then again, maybe not. My maternal grandmother died of cancer at 63, and my maternal grandfather passed away at 81 of a heart attack. My mom suffered from a brain aneurysm rupture ten years ago and now battles high blood pressure, macular degeneration, and osteoporosis. In contrast, my blood pressure is at the low end of normal, and I have the bone mineral density of a 20 year old. My mother’s veins are very small and deep, while mine are huge pipelines which sit right under the surface of my skin. With that type of family history, I am thankful that I took charge of my own life as a young adult and made changes which protected my health.

Hopefully my story resonated with some of you and perhaps inspired you to take regular exercise and healthy eating seriously. Please do not wait until your health begins to suffer. Be proactive and preventative, especially if you have a family history of certain diseases. Revamp your eating habits NOW. Commit to a regular exercise program that incorporates resistance training. No more excuses!